Cisco continued to focus its attention on the small and medium-sized business market at yesterday’s online “In the Know” roundtable, calling SMBs its fastest growing market segment, and one that still offers a $30 billion opportunity. Over 100 new Cisco employees have been added to help existing and new partners reach and recruit new customers. Cisco defines small businesses as those with a “wallet potential” of $50,000 annually, or $200,000 or less over three years.
The roundtable, which included updates to the new Scale program rolled out earlier, and was led by Vice President, Global Distribution and SMB Sales Andrew Sage (pictured), and Vice President, Global SMB and Partner Marketing Luxy Thuraisingam, focused on those SMBs “stampeding” to the cloud and SaaS in their push for digital transformation. Sage and Thuraisingam repeated several times evidence of Cisco’s intent as shown by investments in the partners, updated marketing, and a new approach to attract customers.
Since Cisco’s SMB efforts are entirely led by partners, Cisco had two MSPs at the roundtable to recount their experiences with the new program. Doug Westervelt, CEO of Portland Internetworks, has been a Cisco partner for 20 years. He admitted working with Cisco in the past felt like, “Dancing with an elephant in SMB.” The new focus shows a “ton of change of attitude towards SMB, much for the better.”
Important to Westervelt are new Cisco offerings that are multitenant friendly and use a “pay as we consume” model. In addition, he said there’s been more engagement and interaction with the SMB people at Cisco. His customers appreciate Cisco’s answer to companies needing hybrid support, and the excellent brand reputation.
Bob Schroeder, vice president of product management for Spectrum Enterprise, part of Charter Communications, uses Cisco products in his flagship Managed Network Edge service. His SMB case study detailed NC Agents, a BNSF logistics partner with 120 employees across six sites in the Carolinas. They use Spectrum’s high-speed business network to connect each site for data and Webex conferencing with Cisco Meraki edge devices at all perimeters tied to Meraki network switches and access points.
Cisco’s SMB marketing push focuses on three areas: end-to-end marketing, outcome messaging, and enabling customer choice. Customer marketing emphasizes outcomes and business advantages, not model numbers and throughput.
Distributors already support 70% of Cisco’s SMB sales, and the new program offers them ways to do more. Resellers can now go through their distributors to reach Cisco local field teams. Specialized content developed for distributors to provide partners includes regional marketing variations and custom messaging for MSPs. In addition, pricing that used to be mysterious and complex in the SMB area has been reworked with no haggle upfront prices that are competitive, including simpler deal registration for partners.
Cisco’s revamped approach to meeting the needs of small- and medium-sized businesses will roll out to 16 countries initially, with full compliance with GDPR based on regional and national laws. Localized campaigns go beyond just translation to modifications to best fit the markets in different countries.
The upgrades promise the best route to market acceleration with partners, said Sage. Each SMB customer will be surrounded by partners, all supported by Cisco SMB Territory Managers. He finished by saying they may not always do it right the first time, but they’ll fix it quickly.